Relief road included in town's strategic plan

PUBLISHED: 13:35 07 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:25 15 June 2010

THE regeneration of Axminster town centre and the long-awaited north-south relief road formed part of the vision for the town launched in the Guildhall last week.

THE regeneration of Axminster town centre and the long-awaited north-south relief road formed part of the vision for the town launched in the Guildhall last week.The blueprint for Axminster's future has been unveiled after months of public consultation led by the Market and Coastal Town Initiative (MCTI).Axminster Community Enterprise (ACE), working as the Axminster MCTI steering group, set up by the town council in 2006, held an introduction to findings and hosted a question and answer session.The work was based on suggestions and issues raised by public consultation events in June and last October.Community agent Nick Cornwell said: "We were conscientious from the very start. We took views of people who came to Axevale 15 months ago. We used those suggestions and obviously added ours - and it's generated from there."The core priority of ACE is to regenerate Axminster town centre 'through sensitively-planned schemes', including a north-south relief road, an increase in house building, creating employment opportunities and providing better public transport.ACE chairman and local councillor Andrew Moulding introduced the background of the plan. In the 'Vision of Axminster 2030', he wrote: "The MCTI has enabled the town to produce its first community plan with a vision covering the next twenty to thirty years. Recent events, such as the closure of the cattle market, have encouraged the town to consider a possible change in emphasis from a market and agricultural town to an employment and light industrial centre."This has led us to focus on four key priorities: regenerating the town centre, helping people to appreciate and enjoy the parish's natural assets, encouraging Axminster's growth and increasing the use of public and community transport."The plan recognises challenges such as heavy traffic, one or two eyesores in the town, a limited range of work available and an ageing population.But it has highlighted strengths, like its position as gateway to the Jurassic Coast, having a train station and having the greatest long-term development potential in East Devon.As well as investing in the transport infrastructure, town centre redevelopment, house building and jobs, the plan hopes to develop sustainable tourism by developing public open space and riverside access.Parliamentary spokesman Jon Underwood, of the Tiverton and Honiton Liberal Democrats, who lives in Axmouth, attended the meeting and said he was impressed with the ideas - and hoped they would materialise.He said: "The principles put out were extremely good and I hope they come to pass. With the state of the economy, I don't think it's going to be any time soon."The relief road needs to be carefully thought out - about where it's going to go. But I suppose the enterprise is a long term thing."Through a dedicated website local residents and businesses have opportunities to have an informed say in this enterprise of community planning for the future.The ACE site is updated regularly with news, consultation papers and drafts for public comment. It contains a record of the steering group meetings and working papers. For more information, visit www.axminstercommunityenterprise.org.uk


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